Friday, March 30, 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Publisher: Little, Brown (Poppy)
Pages: 236
Publication Date: January 2, 2012
Type: Hardback, bought
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A. 

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.


This book is so very misleading.

Look at that title.  The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.  Look at that cover, all pierced hearts and scribbles and kissing as if no one were watching.  Look at that pitch--British boy, airplanes, true love.  It sounds cute, right? A little corny? Hole-in-your-tooth sweet?

This book would you have you think that you are picking up a lovely little romance and no more.  You would be so very, very wrong.

This book is about family.  It's about finding love and losing it and finding it again.  It's about bringing yourself to forgive when all you thought you could do was hurt. It's about endings and beginnings and everything in between.  It's about two lost and lonely people whose lives cross by a string of chance.

It's absolutely beautiful.

It's very short for a YA book, shorter than almost any I can remember, and usually, that'd be an issue.  Usually, I'd turn the last page and think of all the things the author could have done but didn't, all the little ways this and that could've been expounded upon if it were only that much larger.  Not so with this.  In 236 pages, this book says everything it needs to say and more.  There are broken hearts and new loves, families shattered and families made, laughter and love and maybe even tears.  

And in the end, there is hope.  The characters change, more than I've seen in almost any novel to date, but they don't fool themselves; things will not magically be okay.  They will be better.  And maybe they will be alright, someday.  

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  There is a 100% probability that you will love it.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy

Publisher: Penguin (Razorbill)
Pages: 279
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Type: ARC, for blog tour

When Lorelei's old school mysteriously burns down, a new one appears practically overnight: Splendid Academy. Rock-climbing walls on the playground and golden bowls of candy on every desk? Gourmet meals in the cafeteria, served by waiters? Optional homework and two recess periods a day? It's ever kids's dream. 

But Lorelei and her new friend Andrew are pretty sure it's too good to be true. Together they uncover the sinister mystery, one with their teacher, the beautiful Ms. Morrigan, at the very center. 

Then Andrew disappears. Lorelei has to save him, even if that means facing a past she'd like to forget – and taking on a teacher who's a real witch. 

What Lorelei and Andrew discover chills their bones – and might even pick them clean! 


This book helped remind me why I still adore middlegrade.

It managed to be cute, sweet, genuinely emotional, and creepy, sometimes all within the span of a few pages.  In a YA novel, that'd be almost bizarre; but in here? Not in the slightest.  Children have such a fantastic array of emotions, and are so very capricious.  They can switch from delighted to horrified to curious within the span of minutes.  And they have this honest, black and white view of the world that has always fascinated me more than anything.  

At first, this tripped me up.  While some of the characters were wonderful and real and intensely likable--Lorelei, Andrew, even Brian, despite his jerkiness--some of them seemed to be flatly evil, with no redeeming traits to speak of.  But then I remembered something, something I suppose I'd forgotten in the many months between my last middlegrade read.  I remembered that simply because Lorelei perceived these people as purely awful did not mean they were, in actuality, evil incarnate; it was simply how she saw them.  Lorelei is not a little kid, but even at her age, children have this tendency to make things out in such a way that the world is easier to grasp.  There are blacks and whites, rights and wrongs, but there are no shades of gray.

I'd accepted this, so it came as a very, very pleasant surprise when Nikki Loftin showed me that Lorelei could see the shades of gray, at least a bit.

Even those characters that should be completely despicable, the ones you know you're supposed to hate, root against, hope for their demise, etc., were not the evil, mustache-twirling (hair-twirling, since they're female?) villains that one might find in a middlegrade book for the younger ages.  They were terrible, yes, and I was rooting for Lorelei to defeat them, yes, but there were these small moments, these small emotions, that made them so very real, despite the fantastic circumstances.

I adored that.  I adored every last character in here, but most of all, I adored Lorelei.  She was sweet and troubled and determined and far, far better than most MCs you'll find in YA today.  They could learn a thing or to from this girl, this eleven-year-old who loves her family and loves her friend and will do anything to save the people around her, no matter how they may act towards her.  

That's not the only thing I was fond of. I liked the writing, simple and smooth; I liked the plot, with its fast, even pacing that rushed me through this in less than a day; I liked the whole concept, completely creepy and completely original.  Granted, I guessed the main plot within the first 30 pages, but I do not fall within this book's intended audience.  I suspect that for the average 7-12 year old, the plot will be a wonderful mystery.

More than all this, though, the characters made the story.  Nikki Loftin has a real talent for creating characters that you can't help but love, and that, that guarantees I will read anything she writes, no matter the genre.

4.5 stars, but I loved the characters enough that it's being rounded to 5.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

"Waiting on Wednesday"  is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW is . . .   

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

In this follow-up to Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas begins seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep, and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong. These aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears. 

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.


Yes, another sequel.  I was browsing my TBR list when I stumbled upon this gem, and I was stunned that I hadn't already featured it.  I actually had to pan back through my archives, to make absolutely certain that I hadn't already shared with the world my ridiculously high levels of excitement for this lovely, lovely book.  

Honestly? It's the same case as Days of Blood & Starlight. I loved the first book. Loved it, loved it, loved it.  It was horrifying and beautiful and witty rolled into one package of awesome and wrapped in one of the most gorgeous covers you will ever set your eyes upon.  

So when Anna is standing there in hell with her hand outstretched, just waiting for me to join, what else am I supposed to do?

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?  Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (15)

Teaser Tuesday, a meme hosted by Should Be Reading is really easy and fun to participate in. All you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Across the ocean, her father is making one last toast, and the white-gloved hotel staff is polishing the silverware for tomorrow's celebration.  Behind her, the boy with a ticket for seat 18C on the next flight to London is eating a powdered doughnut, oblivious to the dusting of white on his blue shirt.

Hadley closes her eyes, just for a moment, and when she opens them again, the plane is gone.

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything? 


So, quite frankly, I am already in love with this book, and I have only read the prologue.

Now, I'm not typically a fan of prologues.  They're often unnecessary, slipped in for dramatic effect.  But this one was far, far too lovely to earn my stink eye.  If it weren't for the fact that I really need my sleep tonight, I'd be reading on.  I'm about 99% certain I'll love this book.

(see what I did there?)

What are you reading this Tuesday? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out!

Monday, March 26, 2012


Publisher: Random House
Pages: 592
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Type: Hardback, bought

The Legend of Beka Cooper gives Tamora Pierce's fans exactly what they want—a smart and savvy heroine making a name for herself on the mean streets of Tortall's Lower City—while offering plenty of appeal for new readers as well. 

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal. 


Once again, I am too confused to rate a book.  There are so, so many things I think about this book, so many things that conflict with one another, and I simply don't know what the end result is.

I know that the first 150 pages or so were very slow; those 150 pages are the ones I read over a span of about two weeks.

But I also know that the rest of it was insanely fast, and I read the next 400+ pages in less than two days.

I know that Tamora Pierce's characters were as real and complex and fantastic as ever.

Yet she completely slaughtered one character that had always been one of those real, complex, fantastic people within her pages.  And by slaughtered, I am not referring to them dying.

I know she dealt with the loss of one whom you loathe but know you should mourn exceptionally well.  Beka's sadness, and guilt over her lack of sadness, were done beautifully.

I know I sobbed when I thought my favorite character was about to die, too distraught to read on and see that they did not, in fact, pass away.

I know the romance was a good deal faster than I prefer (once it came into being), but I felt as though they had a genuine relationship, it was slower than a good deal of YA romances today, and I was quite fond of the love interest, so it can't have been all that terrible.

I know that last plot twist was shit. Scummer.  Piddle.  And it would've been no matter whom the traitor happened to be.  Not a one of them had any motive, nor had any given a single hint that they might do such a thing.  No matter who the traitor had been, she'd have been slaughtering a character.  And she did.

I know our little constellation cat changes, from his time as Pounce to his time as Faithful.  It was fascinating, really.  It intrigued me to no end, seeing how very different yet similar the black cat with violet eyes was almost 200 years ago.  With Beka, one can certainly tell that he cares for her if they read, but he doesn't make a great display of it.  He pushes her to be as independent of him as possible, purposely refuses to aid in certain situations so she realizes she cannot always rely on him.  But despite that, he is quite obvious in his magic.  It is made clear what he is, and he has no qualms about showing Beka and her friends at least a fair amount of the things he can do.  With Alanna, he is different.  He is more openly affectionate, though he does not stop with his scolding or his sarcastic comments.  But he is also more withdrawn; Alanna and those who encounter him certainly recognize that he's something supernatural, but he doesn't make as great a show of it. I don't believe they ever find out for certain that he's a constellation.  I don't believe they ever see the majority of things he can do.  It's as if 100 years in the stars, and perhaps another companion or two, have changed him.  That, I loved that.

I know I'm glad that Beka really did something great, something that changed history.  We know from the beginning of the series that she must've done something grand, to be so highly esteemed by her ancestors nearly 200 years later.  Throughout the series, I have been waiting for that something.  She has accomplished great deeds, yes, but not ones so epic that they'd keep her memory alive for centuries.  This, this is something people would remember.

I know the epilogue  seemed a bit contrived at times, and a bit unsatisfying, as if the memory we'd relived throughout this entire series was being dishonored.  But also incredible, to see this story lead neatly into Pierce's very first in the world of Tortall.

I know that this is most likely the last book of the Tortallan saga, and I know that makes me impossibly sad.  Five series, seventeen books, a whole world, and a million stories.  Wars and rebellions and magical creatures.  Characters I've loved, and characters I've hated.  I may well be wrong, but I doubt it.  She tied this ending to Alanna's beginning, the dawn of her Tortallan tales.  It's as if her world has come full circle.  And I doubt she'll return to it again.

I can't give this one a rating.  There are far too many of my feelings wrapped about this book to make a clear decision.  I can't express to you what I thought in the form of a few stars.  But I can tell you to read it.  Read this book, this series, all of her series in this world.  I promise that you won't regret it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where you can learn about all the awesome new books people have picked up this week!   

This week wasn't quite as crazy as the last, but there are still some pretty fantastic books to feature.  And the best part is that I only paid for one of them!

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin, for blog tour
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, won from YA Confidential.  Thanks Karen!
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  Bought at the bookstore. Couldn't help myself.

In addition to these three lovelies, I also received a gorgeous bookmark from Emily Hainsworth.  Cannot wait for Through to You.  Parallel worlds + male POV = indescribably high levels of awesome.

Also, more NetGalley books! My TBR pile is starting to make frownie faces at me, but I am studiously ignoring it.

I cannot wait to start these.  The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy looks like a creepy, adorable, much-needed dose of MG, Wanderlove sounds (and looks!) fantastic, and according to my friends, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread.  I'm fairly certain I'll be in love with it. 

And, well, as for the NetGalley books . . . I wouldn't have requested them if I didn't expect them to be incredible. Really! I promise! There's just . . . a lot of books I have high expectations for.

How about you? What did you receive in the mailbox this week? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

"Waiting on Wednesday"  is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW is . . .   

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed "Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.  


Not a full summary, but I DON'T EVEN CARE.

If you remember, I really freaking loved Daughter of Smoke & Bone.  It was dark, different, and stunningly beautiful.  I am not typically a fan of the angel genre, considering just how many times I have seen the myths completely slaughtered, but Daughter of Smoke & Bone still managed to win me over.  Between the gorgeous, lyrical, and occasionally whimsical writing of Laini Taylor and the crazy amounts of imagination and originality stuffed between those pages, it's one of my Top 10 favorites of all time.

So of course "excited" doesn't accurately describe how I feel about this sequel.

It doesn't have a final cover.  It doesn't have a full summary. I know next-to-nothing about it.  I don't care.  I need this book to be mine, sooner rather than later.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (14)

Teaser Tuesday, a meme hosted by Should Be Reading is really easy and fun to participate in. All you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser

The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

3 years, 1 month, 1 week, and 6 days since I'd seen the daylight. One-fifth of my life. 

So, I really can't say much about this book, seeing as I literally just began it.  However, I'm a fan so far.  I really love the writing, and it's fascinating, seeing how the main character's been driven out of her mind to the point that she counts every last detail of every last thing.  I'm hoping this one will be as great as it sounds.

What are you reading this week? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Winner of Terrier by Tamora Pierce!

Hello! So, my very first giveaway ended two days ago.  I was trying to line it up with my completion of Mastiff, but with all the stuff that's been going on lately, I realized that was not going to happen. So without further ado, the winner of Terrier is . . .

Hannah Smith!

Congrats to Hannah, and thank you to everyone who entered!  The book will be sent as soon as I can stop by the post office.  In the meantime, there'll be another giveaway on the blog in the near(ish) future, so stay tuned for that, and have a wonderful week!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren where you can learn about all the awesome new books people have picked up this week! 

This IMM showcases the catastrophic (or wonderful) results of me, in a bookstore, with money.

This past week I bought/received:

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Finished copy of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Wonder by R.J. Palacio

In addition to my shopping spree last Sunday, I also received an insanely gorgeous bookmark from Bethany Griffin, author of Masque of the Red Death

That's it for physical goodies, but I also, for some reason, decided it'd be a bright idea to return to NetGalley.  And now my TBR list is that much larger.

I was approved for:

That's all for this week! I'm ridiculously excited about every one of these.  Sure, they are only feeding the ever-expanding TBR pile, but that's perfectly okay.  Also, some of these pretties will be showing up in a future giveaway, so stay tuned!

What did you get in your mailbox this week? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Significance of Ratings and the Significance of Reviews

Once again, I did not have something to post, and I don't wish to remain postless until the next review or meme comes along.  This post was inspired by the drama that sprung up yesterday with several authors and several very unhappy reviewers.  To sum it up: several authors e-mailed reviewers, complaining of three-star reviews.  One publicly complained of these on Twitter, and was joined by several other authors, as well as agents.  Goodreaders were understandably upset.

These authors seemed to be under the impression that a three-stars review is a "negative review."  This puzzled me a bit, because if one scrolls their mouse over the three star rating on Goodreads, it says "I liked it."

But not all reviewers go along with Goodreads's definition.  For some, it's simply a "this was okay."  For some, it's more complicated than simply "I liked it."  It's an "I enjoyed this, but it wasn't anything special."  Or maybe it's an "I really enjoyed this, but not as much as books I've rated four stars."  Or many, many more. All reviewers operate under  their own definitions, and these can vary hugely from person to person.

However, in the end, a three star is still an okay review at its worst.  It's not a glowing review, but it's certainly not a bad one.

But what if it was a bad rating, a bad review that these authors complained of?  That raises two questions: one, do authors have the right to make public commentary on their bad reviews?  And two, is it necessarily a negative thing?

I won't go into detail on the first, because that question has already been covered by various authors and reviewers through the Goodreads madness of January.  The basic consensus seemed to be, if you want to avoid conflict, simply do not make any sort of public commentary.  Most also agreed, however, that if the author is classy in their reply, it's acceptable behavior.

The second question, though, is one that's quite interesting to consider.  I understand that a negative review hurts.  I have received negative reviews of my own work--though, granted, none like those one will find on Goodreads--and I know that harsh reviews are never a pleasant experience (particularly when one is already published and cannot apply said harsh reviews to their manuscript).  But the fact is? In the end, a negative review may help you just as much as, if not more than, a gushing review could.

It's been statistically proven that negative reviews increase book sales for new authors considerably more than the positive.  That's right.  Those negative reviews--even those ones that tear your soul into tiny pieces, stomp on them, and then scatter them to the wind--generate more publicity than a glowing review explaining every piece of awesomeness this book contains.

For the more well-known authors, positive reviews do trump negative reviews as far as book sales are concerned.  But the fact is, in the end? A negative review will still get your book more attention than no review at all.  If a person has hundreds, thousands of followers or subscribers or whatnot, that is hundreds or thousands of people being exposed to your book.  Some of them will read the review, see some of the aspects that this reviewer disliked, and think, Hey.  I like seeing that in a book.  Maybe that means I'll like this book, too? Some of them will read the review and think, Whether I like this book or not, it's guaranteed to be entertaining in one way or another.

The bottom line is? Negative reviews get that book attention.

And to be honest? Negative reviews are the reason that book reviews can still be considered the basis for purchasing a book.   If every review were four or five stars, who would value them?  What would someone's endless gushing mean if every other review on every other book was exactly the same?  Negative reviews make the good reviews stand out.  They make us realize that, hey, if this person who's usually quite picky really, really loved that book, maybe I should pick it up.

Maybe if they really, really hated that book, I should pick it up, too.

This is an extraordinarily complicated topic, and I won't even try to pretend that I've covered anywhere near everything there is to say.  I simply wanted to share my thoughts, and to hear yours.  How do you define your rating system, and how do you judge the value of another's rating based on theirs?  What do you think of negative reviews?

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

"Waiting on Wednesday"  is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW is . . .   

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandana
Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination - an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her 'other', if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready. 

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this. 

Now she must abandon everything she's ever known - the guardians who raised her, the boy she's forbidden to love - to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive. 

I featured this one in a cover reveal a few weeks ago, and I tried to express my excitement as well as possible; unfortunately, I don't think I managed to show you just how ridiculously excited I am about this book. 

The cover is, of course, a part of it.  I must say, it's one of my favorites of 2012.  It's so . . . haunting.  This one doesn't try to pull you in with lovely dresses and glitter and blown-up faces with deep, speculative looks.  It doesn't need to.  The dark, hollow feeling of the cover, the shadows and the clouds and her empty, image-filled face, are beyond stunning.  And even better?  That seems completely and utterly perfect for this book.

I love this idea. I love it, I love it, I love it.  I love the insane originality and incredible possibility. I love the idea of a girl who has been made for nothing but to mimic another.  I love that it's set in India.  I love that there will be romance, but it does not seem to be the main plot.  I love that it could be both creepy and  absolutely beautiful.  There are so many fantastic things that can be done with this idea, and I suspect it'll be even better than I've imagined.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (13)

Teaser Tuesday, a meme hosted by Should Be Reading is really easy and fun to participate in. All you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

"Dress and pack what you need for a stay of three days. Bring Achoo. Tell no one where you're bound or from whom the orders came."  He met my eyes.  "Forgive me, but you're my best choice."

Yeah, another week-long read.  I apologize for the speed, but between school and the fact that these books are rather hefty, it's been slow going.  I'll finish this week. Promise.

Still enjoying this as much as ever.  The pace is a bit slow, but it works for the story; complex, 500+ page long mysteries can't always have action at every turn.  The characters in Pierce's books make every page worth it.

What are you reading this Tuesday? Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Book Haters

I didn't have a post scheduled for today, so I figured I'd write about something that's always puzzled and amazed me: those alien creatures who profess to loathe something that we couldn't love more.


As a child, I didn't get it.  I couldn't understand.  I simply couldn't wrap my head around the idea that there were people out there, people I knew, who didn't want to live in a million different worlds, all while lying in their bedroom.  I couldn't see why people wouldn't want to fall in love with fictional characters and fictional worlds.

The problem, I've decided, is that they can't.

As I grew older, I began to think on it, really think.  I thought of those times when I was reading, and then something would happen, and I'd disconnect.  Be pulled from my fictional world with a vengeance.  When I returned to the book, for a few minutes after, I was not in a different world; I was simply reading words off a page.  Same as any history textbook.  Dull. Lifeless. Meaningless.  It was always, and still is, so very terrifying, the thought that my fantasies could be pulled from me like that.  Even in books with the dullest, most unrelatable of characters, I am still in another place, one far more interesting than my own.

My theory for book haters is just this: for them, it's not a few minutes every now and then.  These people? They never entered that world in the first place.

It makes more sense than anything else I could imagine.  If every book I read were the same as a textbook--bland, boring, words swimming on a blank page--I would hold no love for them.  We love books because, to us, they are so much more than printed words.  They're people and stories beyond our wildest imagination.  They are our escape when the real world grows too painful.  A book lover is never, ever alone.  And I think these people hate that.  I think they hate that they will never understand.

This is, of course, simply my theory. I'm sure many other book lovers have pondered the same issue, and probably written about it.  If you know of any posts such as this, I'd love to be linked to them.  Meanwhile, what do you think about it?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My 100th Post


So, I've been book blogging for almost six months.

I never expected that.  I really didn't.  I think that is because, back when I first created this, I didn't quite grasp what it was book bloggers did.  I think some silly, illogical part of my brain told me that book bloggers just posted reviews and commented and . . . stuff.  I didn't get it.  I didn't get people's utter devotion to it.  I didn't get the people who said just how many hours they'd spent each week on the blogaverse, while I posted a review or two a week and stared dumbly at their professed dedication.  I simply did not understand.

But then I started to pay attention.

I saw that it was so much more than just reviews.  It was interviews, and memes, and giveaways!  It was bloggers talking with authors, building on one of the most brilliant symbiotic relationships in existence, that of writer and reader.  It was the book bloggers themselves, building their own little community, their own friendships and traditions and ideas.

It was so, so fantastic.  And I wanted to be a part of it.

So I started to really try.  I participated in memes. I found more and more book blogs to love and follow.  I talked on Twitter, followed the authors and the bloggers and all the fabulous bookish people.  And eventually, it finally struck me that, yeah, just reading everyone's posts wasn't quite enough.  Reading was all well and good, but people didn't actually know that I read every single one of their posts.

I had to comment.

So I started doing that, too.  I started commenting; not only on the memes, where it's a common thing to include a link to your own post, but on the reviews, and the interviews, and the giveaways, and everything in between.  It took me hours. Still does.  I like to leave longer comments, simply because I know how much I love to read them.  Every comment makes me ridiculously happy, regardless of the length, but the thorough ones that show the commenter really read the post and has something to say put an enormous smile on my face.  I want to do that to other people.  So I commented, and lo and behold, I started getting comments back!  Because, surprise surprise, Lexie, the blogaverse, like many things, is based upon a system of reciprocation.  You can't expect people to comment on your posts if you never comment on theirs.

And you know what's come of all this?

I've made friends.
I've gotten readers.
I've seen more about the world of publishing than I could've ever imagined.
I've fallen in love with book blogging.

I don't intend to stop it anytime soon.  I love this, every part of it, even the many hours spent cramped over comments or scratching my head and wondering what exactly to say in this post or that.  I love books, I love blogging, and I love every one of you, my awesome readers.

And there goes my 100th post on this blog.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Favorite Girls in YA

Happy Day After International Women's Day! Yeah, so I would've done this yesterday, but then I ended up sleeping the entire afternoon, so that didn't work out.  Today's close enough.

In any case, this seems a fitting way to celebrate the sheer fantasticness that is the female gender on a book blog.  This post was inspired by Meagan and Michelle's posts (both of their blogs are really wonderful so you should totally check them out), and as they both agreed, who doesn't love a nice list?

So here we go.  Some of my very favorite females in YA, in no particular order.

Harper Scott from Saving June

Harper Scott is not by any means flawless.  In fact, one might even argue that she is not a good person.  She is judgmental, abrasive, often contemptuous.  She's not often sensitive and she's not always kind.  But she's Harper: a girl more broken by her sister's death than she can ever let on; a girl who knows she has problems and knows she'll have to deal with them and tries; a girl who will do anything, however crazy, for those she really loves.  At first, Harper may seem to live inside an impenetrable shell, but that's not quite true.  As we read, we see the little flashes of beauty, the little moments that show you she's so much more than she'd have you believe.  Harper may not be the best person you will ever meet, but she tries and she cares and I loved her for it.

Amy Curry from Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

Posting this right after Saving June made me realize how very similar these are, in a way; two girls, embarking on cross-country roadtrips after a devastating loss.  Very different in very many ways, but both completely and entirely beautiful.

Amy has every reason to be messed up.  Her dad is dead, her brother's in a rehabilitation center, her mother's across the country, and she has to spend several days in a car with a boy she scarcely knows.  She could've made a great fuss.  She could've been awful about it.  She wasn't.  She was so lost and sad and painfully guilty, but she went on despite it.  She fought to move past it, and to live with herself.  She fought to make things better both without her and within.  Amy did more than survive her grief; she did something about it.  Reading her struggle to deal with her life and her loss and move on was more powerful than I can fully express.  I don't think I'll ever forget this book, and I don't think I'll ever forget Amy.

Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars 

The world dealt this girl a shitty hand.  No one should ever have to deal with the knowledge that they are going to die, and soon, let alone a sixteen-year-old girl.  But Hazel has terminal cancer; that knowledge has always been her reality.  She will die, and she will die young.

It would be so easy for her to be that tragic-but-beautiful image of a cancer patient that so many books paint today, the dying child who has suddenly gained great wisdom and insight on the real meaning of life.  It would be so easy for her, as a person, to become exceptionally dark and gloomy; impending death doesn't do a lot for the spirits.  But that's not Hazel.  Hazel is just a girl who knows she's going to die and wants to live her life until she does.  Who can still laugh about the silly things as well as the illness that's killing her.  Who wants to withdraw from others so as to hurt them less when she is inevitably gone.  Who believes that we can't all leave a mark on this world through our grand gestures and heroic deeds, that sometimes we leave our mark just by living our lives.

That's the girl I read through, and cried with.  That's the Hazel Grace that I loved.

Gemma Doyle from A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing

Holy character development, Batman!

When this trilogy begins, Gemma is not the greatest role model.  She is judgmental, unaware, even bratty.  Sometimes she is spirited in a good way, and sometimes it's quite the opposite.  She is distrustful.  Often insensitive.

But throughout the trilogy,  she becomes so, so much more.

She does everything for those she loves.  She does everything for what she believes in.  She fights for a safer world with her every breath.  In a society where women were so oppressed, scolded for even dreaming of something other than their strict, closeted lives, Gemma's fire and independence are all the more incredible.  She resists what society demands of them, stands up for her beliefs, makes a statement, saves the world.  No matter the cost. (No matter if the cost is Kartik.) 

Finally, Hermione Granger from Harry Potter 

I can't imagine writing a Favorite Girls in YA post without including Hermione Granger.

Just like Michelle, I have always been the Hermione.  There are so many girls in YA that I love and respect, so many that I can identify with in some way, but I have always been the Hermione type.  And I have always, always loved her for showing millions of girls that it's okay if they love books, it's okay if they're intelligent, it's alright to be the one that knows the answers.  Hermione being the smart know-it-all is what saved their asses time and time again throughout the series.  She took her intelligence and made it something she could use to save lives.  She, Hermione, the greatest witch of her grade, is one of the most truly fantastic heroines you will ever read.  She is one of those characters; the ones I know will never leave my mind or my heart.  So stay wonderful, Hermione.


That's it for me! There are certainly many other YA and middlegrade girls out there who I adore, but I can't possibly list them all.  These are the ones that really resonate with me, the ones I don't think I'll ever forget.

Who are your favorite girls in YA?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

"Waiting on Wednesday"  is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW is . . .  

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, all she’s ever been able to rely on is her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they’ve been sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.
When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. She is torn from everything she knows and whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes that she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the Sun Summoner. Only her power can destroy the Fold.
Overwhelmed by luxury, envied as the Darkling’s favorite, Alina struggles to keep her wits about her without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her mastery of her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha—and the secrets of her heart.

On the 24th of February, the cover to Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo was revealed; now, almost two weeks later, I still hear people talking about it.  I'm not surprised.  This cover may be my favorite of 2012.  Everything about it is lovely.  The color scheme; the shadowy tendrils; the dark, scrolling font; the beautiful castle, black and blood red, with a distinct Russian influence.  Everything works perfectly, and it manages to do so without the typical staple of YA covers today: a girl. In a dress.

But the cover lust is not why I want this so very badly.  I want it because I fully expect it be utterly incredible.

The pitch sounds absolutely marvelous.  Dark, magical, and utterly fantastical.  I have mixed feelings on the fantasy genre, so the fact that this pulled me in so completely is testament to its sheer awesomeness.  I'd be expecting great things from the pitch and the cover alone, but that's not it; of every person that I know of who's read this book, not a single one has given it less than five stars. Not a single one.  Even some notorious for their strictness have fallen utterly in love with this.  

And, as if that's not already reason enough . . . there's going to be a map in the finished copy.  A gorgeous, beautifully crafted map that I enjoy staring at almost as much as the cover.  I'm going to be straight with you guys, I'm a sucker for maps in fantasy books.  Not only can they be more than a little bit helpful, I've always found them so very fascinating to look at.  I've probably spent many hours of my life gazing at maps in my favorite books.

In summary, this book seems like it will be everything I wish for and more and I absolutely cannot wait for it to be released.  (I may or may not be camping out at B&N on June 4th . . . )

What's your WoW this week?